Let’s address this issue by first defining our terms. Although many definitions have appeared, science can be described as what we really know to be true mainly through observation. The late G. G. Simpson of Harvard stated in Science magazine that “it is inherent in any definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observation are not really about anything . . . or at the very least, they are not science.”
But the origins debate centers around macroevolution, and macroevolution has never been observed. One of the architects of neo-Darwinism agrees: “It is manifestly impossible to reproduce in the laboratory the evolution of man from the australopithecine, or of the modern horse from an Eohippus, or of a land vertebrate from a fishlike ancestor. These evolutionary happenings are unique, unrepeatable, and irreversible” (Theodosius Dobzhansky, American Scientist, December 1957).
This can be brought into sharp focus by considering other areas of science: a supernova can be observed, and science can be done using these observations, but our inability to “reproduce in a laboratory” the original explosion does not change this in the slightest.
It should be fairly obvious to everyone that not only is the argument flawed but the quotes presented are quite likely to be mined. Indeed, this is the case – the first is handled for us by an article by Robert P. J. Day on the talk.origins website:
Compare these two versions with what Simpson actually wrote:
“It is inherent in any acceptable definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observations are not really about anything — or at the very least they are not science.”
In the first place, Simpson was discussing armchair speculation about life on other planets and, in this context, his statement is perfectly reasonable. This context was carefully removed. However, note how the CEC quote has omitted the word “acceptable” and changed the hyphen to ellipses, normally used to denote missing text, which is not happening here but is more consistent with Gish’s incorrect reproduction of the quote [and the one used by Sherwin]. Conclusive evidence that the quote came from secondhand sources is that the reference is simply wrong. The correct reference to Simpson’s article, given by Friedlander, is p. 769, vol. 143, not volume 45, which makes it abundantly clear that, wherever the quote came from, it was not from the original source, a practise quite common among creationists. It is likely that whoever designed the handout never read Simpson’s original article, and had no idea what its subject was.
(Square parenthesis mine.) Neither Sherwin’s original Acts & Facts article nor its recent reproduction at YOM give any proper reference for his quotes, so he is technically innocent of messing up the citation, but he is unlikely to have seen anything closer to the original form than Gish’s bastardised version.
The second quote, for which he gives a slightly better reference – it’s from “On Methods of Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology: Part I. Biology,” Theodosius Dobzhansky, American Scientist, Vol. 45, No. 5 (December 1957), pp. 366A, 381-392 – can be found here by people with access to JSTOR on page 388. Here’s the full paragraph, from which Sherwin only took the first two sentences:
On the other hand, it is manifestly impossible to reproduce in the laboratory the evolution of man from the australopithecine, or of the modern horse from an Eohippus, or of a land vertebrate from a fish-like ancestor. These evolutionary happenings are unique, unrepeatable, and irreversible. It is as impossible to turn a land vertebrate into a fish as it is to effect the reverse transformation. The applicability of the experimental method to the study of such unique historical processes is severely restricted before all else by the time intervals involved, which far exceed the lifetime of any human experimenter. And yet, it is just such impossibility that is demanded by antievolutionists when they ask for “proofs” of evolution which they would magnanimously accept as satisfactory. This is about as reasonable a demand as it would be to ask an astronomer to recreate the planetary system, or to ask an historian to reenact the history of the world from Caesar to Eisenhower.
(Dobzhansky had previously been talking about experiments on mutations in the lab; Eisenhower was the U.S. President at the time.)
So by carefully choosing which portion of the quote to reproduce, Sherwin – or whoever he was copying off of – created something that could be used to buttress the creationist position out of a direct indictment of it. Another quote mine for the collection.